We have all heard of the problems caused by sport specialization, many were discussed in our previous post The Hype Behind Sport Specialization . However there is a new trend occurring with youth sport, the do everything phenomenon. This seems to be the counter balance to the specialization phenomenon. What this is creating is a new problem that is erasing the benefits of being a multi-sport athlete. Young athletes are participating in multiple sports in one season. The point of children doing multi sport was to give them a wide variety of skills and mental experiences. What is happening though is children are being shuttled from sport to sport in one day. Indoor soccer practice to hockey game or tumbling practice to dance practice.
Situations like increase the child's level of fatigue, increased chance of injury and burnout. All typical outcomes for sport specialization as well. We tend to forget about scheduling time for play, sleep and homework for our young athletes. During a recent seminar a group of young athletes were shocked when told they should be getting between 8-10 hours of sleep a night. They pointed out that after practice and homework, they are closer to 6-7 hours. It is important to note that athletes who get less than 8 hours of sleep per night are 1.7 times more likely to suffer an injury.
The goal of participating in multiple sports was to broaden the young athletes development and was geared towards year round sport. Multiple sports should be played over multiple seasons. This allows for our youth athletes to focus on one sport at a time, focus on school and as well as allowing them to have time to be KIDS.
So if you are finding it exhausting from running from sport to sport, think about this is effecting the kids.